The Health Risks of Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a class of drugs that stimulate all body functions, especially the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Taking legal or illegal amphetamines will markedly increase your blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and cognitive processes. Three neurotransmitters are involved in producing side effects of amphetamines–norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Prescription and Illegal Amphetamines

Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta are commonly prescribed to reduce symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Vyvanse is another doctor-prescribed amphetamine that treats ADHD and binge-eating disorder in adults.

Just like Oxycodone and other opioid prescriptions are abused, Adderall, Ritalin, and other FDA-approved amphetamines are also abused. They can cause the same serious health problems that illegal amphetamines cause to long-term users.

Methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA (“Molly”) are the most abused, illegal amphetamines in the U.S. What differentiates cocaine and meth from MDMA is that cocaine and meth are definitely addictive but research is still not sure about whether should be classified as addictive.

4 Health Risks of Amphetamines You Should Know

Shakiness/Tremors (Repetitive motor activity)

People withdrawing from amphetamines often experience muscle tremors they can’t control. Depending on how long a person has abused amphetamines, tremors may subside during recovery. However, when an amphetamine addiction is severe, damage to the nervous system may be irreversible. Repetitive motor activity disorder mostly affects the legs, hands, and facial muscles (twitching).


Amphetamine addicts may enter psychotic states involving delusional thinking, aggressive behavior, and hallucinations. Methamphetamine and cocaine abuse trigger the release of huge amounts of dopamine that overstimulates parts of the brain controlling hearing, vision, and rational thinking. Psychotic episodes commonly affect cocaine and meth abusers who stay high and awake for days. Although psychotic symptoms eventually disappear after the addict sleeps or gets emergency treatment, long-term users may be unable to recover from a psychotic episode.

Malnutrition/Tooth Loss/ Hair Loss

All substance abusers neglect their dietary and hygiene needs when in the grip of addiction. The reason why “meth mouth” gets so much attention is that the mouth is immediately visible and clearly shows the detrimental effects of long-term methamphetamine use. However, methamphetamine and amphetamines in general do not directly cause tooth loss, hair loss, and malnutrition. Instead, it is the chronically dry mouth, lack of practicing good hygiene, and eating junk food caused by amphetamine addiction that leads to severe and sometimes permanent medical conditions caused by malnutrition.

Brain Damage

Normal functioning of the brain does not always return after someone stops abusing amphetamines. Methamphetamine and cocaine can destroy large amounts of brain cells and significantly impair signaling within all areas of the brain. Long-term amphetamine addiction may also shrink brain ventricles and create empty spaces in the brain where gray and white matter once existed.

When someone abuses amphetamines, they are also at high risk for:

  • Major depression
  • Suicide ideation/suicide attempt
  • Heart failure/organ failure
  • Potentially fatal bacterial infections
  • Stroke
  • Dementia

Amphetamine addiction cannot be overcome without professional help at a premier recovery center like East Point Recovery. Our evidence-based, medically supervised amphetamine treatment program begins with a comprehensive evaluation of the addict’s physical and mental health and the completion of medical detoxification. The person is then placed in residential treatment that includes behavioral therapies, intensive relapse counseling, medications for improving their health, and aftercare services. Contact East Point Recovery Center today if you or someone you know is addicted to amphetamines.